January 10, 2013

The Cash For Pounds Diet?

Posted in Irish Independent · 194 comments ·
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Is the first week of January turning out as virtuously as you swore to yourself it would eight days ago?

The question I want to pose this week is: should we pay people to lose weight? This idea might seem a little over the top, but studies in the US reveal the surest way to coax people to lose weight is to give them an incentive to do so – and the most persuasive incentive is filthy lucre.

Weight is not just a question of personal vanity, even though most of us feel that way (and those who don’t are not telling the truth). As a result, it is rare to find an honest person who wouldn’t secretly or publically prefer to be a little bit thinner or lighter. When queried about their weight, people tend to cite health reasons for losing a few pounds but in truth, being trim is part of a global aesthetic, which has, for whatever reason, come to dominate what we perceive to be attractive.

More interestingly, subliminal psychological and social judgments can be triggered deep within us when we think about our own weight and that of others.

Leanness has become, in many people’s minds, a type of virtue – a form of statement about the type of person you are. The thin person is self-contained, capable of control, of denial, of going without. This is a person who can govern her own urges. Indeed, in this era of austerity the truly austere person is the trim, lean one.

By extension, the fatter or obese one is considered to be a slob with no self-control. This can and does lead to self-loathing, which psychologists can tell us all about and in the extreme leads to anorexia and other linked illnesses.

Indeed, if you have family members or friends who have difficulty controlling their weight, you will know how debilitating this can be for them physically as well as psychologically. You’ll also know how much of their self worth can be wrapped up in this warped deification of the lean. I have many friends whose daily life is a constant battle with their weight or what they perceive to be chubbiness.

Most of us suffer a bit from this, no matter what size we are (and by the way it doesn’t help that after an excessive Christmas, I am writing this while listening to 1970s David Bowie in his Thin White Duke phase, back when he made Ryan Tubridy look like Mr Blobby).

So it is off to five-a-side soccer for me tonight.

At this time of the year, when we are all full of good intentions, keen to purify ourselves and either look, behave or act differently, it is easy to believe willpower alone can stem the epidemic of obesity threatening our population. But there is little evidence that willpower is enough. This is why something more radical might be entertained, because when we leave the personal we see this is a serious societal and economic issue.

Now let’s look at the economics of this problem in Irish society.

According to the national taskforce on obesity, 61% of Irish adults and 22% of 5-12 year olds are overweight or obese. Men are more likely to be overweight, as are those over 35, and obesity is more prevalent the poorer you are. In one of its more interesting conclusions, the report states:

“The causes of overweight and obesity are characterised as a natural reaction to an unnatural situation. The wide and constant availability of foods, many of which are high in salt, sugar and fat, along with more sedentary work and transport patterns contribute greatly. The term ‘obesogenic environment’ has been coined to describe contexts in which weight gain is passively encouraged”.

The report then tried to put a cost on rising obesity, saying:

“The health and economic impact of this is considerable. Obesity is linked with physical and psychological ill-health and premature death. In Ireland, the costs of related deaths alone have been estimated at €4 billion per annum”

That’s a huge amount of money. And even if it is an overstatement to make a point, it is worth exploring the consequences of obesity for society as well as the person.

In the US, surveys show that obese people, particularly women, earn less and are more likely to throw sickies. Fascinatingly, other US research has found that obesity in young children negatively affects their verbal, social and motor skills. Obese teenage girls are more likely to smoke and be less active.

The finger of blame in the US, where the problem is most acute and the research more evolved, is pointed squarely at food policy and production. Some research estimates that massive falls in the price of “bad” food such as fatty, corn syrup drenched, high fructose products accounts for 43% of the increase in child obesity. In contrast, the price of fruit and vegetables has risen progressively in America. Profits from producing “bad” foods are then ploughed into advertising, reinforcing the initial health problems.

Controversially, both parents working seems to have negative effects on children’s health; children of working mothers are more likely to be overweight. Interestingly, comparing US states with compulsory PE in school to those that don’t, researchers found compulsory exercise doesn’t materially affect obesity rates.

So what to do? It is clear that the present policy is totally irrational.

Imagine trying to reduce smoking by making cigarettes cheaper? This is what we are doing by making “bad” food cheap. This goes against everything we know in economics and how we incentivize people to change behaviour. It’s like urging people to wear seat belts but making cars with seat belts more expensive than those without.

Here is a new notion. Pay people to lose weight. Experiments* in the US show that the best way to help people lose weight is to give them cash. One study took three groups of overweight people. One group was rewarded with cash if they lost weight. The second bunch had to pay to get on a weight loss programme. If they were successful, they got all their money back. The third group received no money, but were praised if they lost weight.

Who lost most, quickest? The people who were paid – of course!

Now I know this sounds truly radical; and paying fat people to lose weight will lead to howls of “moral hazard” from trim, self-controlled types. Like many in the debt forgiveness/mortgage relief debate now, they’ll roar that they were virtuous and thin and now they are being punished for it, just like the people without debt argue that they are being punished for being prudent, while free-spenders are rewarded.

But obesity is a societal problem and we will all pay for it. It’s just a matter of which way we choose to pay. At the moment we pay through the health bill and taxes, which has had no impact on people’s behaviour. Surely the alternative is smarter?

David McWilliams’ new book The Good Room is out now.
*http://www.human.cornell.edu/outreach/upload/CHE_PAM_EconomicsofObesity.pdf


  1. dwalsh

    Maybe instead of paying people to lose weight…fine or tax them for being overweight!

    Of course I’m not serious.

    We live in a corporate world – AKA as the market. Corporations make money selling cheap toxic foods; and selling the medical treatments to off-set the damage. It’s a win-win for the market.

  2. Howya

    Given that the food industry is unlikely to police itself, an easy (if you ignore the lobbyists) is to mandate max levels of sugar, salt etc. Initially, leave the levels close to existing levels and over time reduce the max levels so that the consumer doesn’t notice the change in taste.

  3. Original-Ed

    “This is a person who can govern HER own urges” – what about the other half ? – big, big blunder !!

    • Goatstown

      “Children of working MOTHERS are more likely to be overweight.” What’s the suggestion here?!

      • Tony Brogan

        Stat is a stat. Go ahead shoot the messenger.So you can’t handle the truth?
        Instead of outrage check the validity of the statement

        Have a look at this quick google search.
        “Are chidren of working mothers overweight”"

        Now read the answer here
        http://www.google.ca/search?q=are+children+of+working+mothers+overweight&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&rlz=1I7SKPT_enCA449

        • Goatstown

          Hardly outrage now Tony! I’m just wondering, who says that mothers have to stay at home? Why not the other parent?

          I’m not doubting that google can be used to over simply an argument, and I’m definitely not above doing that very thing. Hence, I give you, “are children of working fathers overweight.” http://www.google.ca/search?q=are+children+of+working+fathers+overweight&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&rlz=1I7SKPT_enCA449
          Enjoy!

          • Realist

            Let’s tax working mothers more then :)

            Ha, ha, ha, just joking of course as could not resist to jape with government.

            I am against any taxation and any racial discrimination or any telling how people should be living their own lives.
            I am for total liberty to live and spend your own money while not intruding on other people’s property.

          • juniorjb

            “Realist”?
            Dogmatic, and therefore stupid.

          • Tony Brogan

            I did enjoy. Your question was not answered by the headlines.
            Says fat fathers and fat parents lead to fat children but a scan lead to no article about fat children resulting from stay at home dads. further down the list a whole bunch of leads on the children of stay at home mums being fat.
            So research some more if you wish but you got no answer to your question

            you are converting this discussion to a different topic asking why should mothers have to stay home. Personal question but nothing to do with the theme.
            Topic for another day.

          • Goatstown

            No Tony, I’m merely wondering why mothers was specified, as opposed to parents. None of the apparent research that you quote (well not quote, but rather lazily point me in the direction of) tells me anything. It merely states that children whose mother’s work are more likely to be overweight, with a claim that obesity has increased in the US over the last 35 years.

            Is that the fault of mothers or the fault of food producers? Is it just the fault of mothers, where she is not a lone parent?!

    • miec

      Yes interesting freudian slip, the rest of the paragraph is carefully worded in they, their, etc.

  4. Tony Brogan

    As it is a societal problem. Set up a program of medical examination. Those at a greater risk of costing the medical plan pay more than those that don’t. Works for life insurance and car in, insurance and house insurance. Why not for health insurance
    I hit rocks with my boat, and shortly later lost a mast. Result was it was difficult to get insurance at all and when I did it was double my previous payment. Now after claims free for three years the premiums are dropping. drop some weight and lower your premium.

    When one reaches the right health standard then the premiums drop.
    There is plenty of evidence that that being overweight costs. It will soon cost on an aircraft as the next thing will be added to a restriction on luggage will be one on avoir dupoir.

    • I have an international boat licence and so have my son and daughter and this is compulsory in France before you can cruise/sail large boats in the Riviera and be covered with economical insurance premiums . It makes a lot of sense.

    • miec

      That could only be potentially useful for those who pay medical insurance.

      • Tony Brogan

        Exactly. Start charging a premium to those who do not pass the annual checkup.
        Here in BC we all pay a premium which is reduced for those on smaller income and is free for those on assistance.Mine is the standard 850 dollrs a year. does not include dental I had to pay for all the familt coverage of dental. does not cover prescriptions.Still costs the gov plenty.

    • Realist

      +1 exactly that, like car or any other insurance

      Privatize healthcare and you will have proper competition with different pay for different class of people.
      If obesity is more risky and costs insurance companies more they will charge more.
      If you want to pay less you will try to be leaner if possible, or not smoke, or whatever else.

  5. Mega Irish Profits

    Many large Foreign and British Food Stores trading in Ireland do not reveal their Irish Profits from Irish Branches in Republic and the Minister has promised to rectify this since the elections . We are still waiting .

    It is common knowledge that food sold in Ireland is over priced by the foreign stores and much of their foreign food products are not consistent declaring their food constituent products thus making them seem dodgy and dangerous for the welfare of the Irish consumer .A legal health hazard that may cause cancer to the unsuspecting buyer.

    When can we have an Irish Made Stamp with a declaration of approval and common reporting that we can feel safe again.

  6. Tony Brogan

    One of the big benefits to a national health program is the the state can now tell you how to live your life and what to eat. “You are costing ‘US’ billions a year in medical bills.”

  7. StephenKenny

    I think people should be paid to wash regularly, also to watch less television. It would also make sense to pay people to eat healthier food, even if they don’t loose weight. Since an educated population is deemed beneficial, we should pay people to pass public exams.

    Using modern surveillance technology, we should pay people who drive sensibly, and thus cut road deaths. We could extend that reward people who operate pedestrian crossings ‘correctly’, and thus minimise accidents.

    Since domestic violence is far and away the biggest cause of physical and psychological damage, we should pay people to live in platonic groups, and use prostitutes if need be. As such, of course, we need to regularise the status of prostitutes, who would need to be paid by the state to attend regular medical checkups. To improve the psychological health of all concerned, the prostitutes may as well receive state funded training in their craft.

    Once you start on this, it’s just great to see all the fantastic improvements we can make by using this method. I can’t imagine why this idea of mass state employment hasn’t been considered before.

  8. DAGGER

    How about just taxing unhealthy food. Then you get the financial incentive without the moral hazard?
    Maybe even subsidise healthy food a little?

    Want a can of coke? Yeah, that’ll be 5 euro.

    Bag of McCoys? Yeah, 5 euro.

    A banana? Yeah, 20 cent.

    Bottle of water ? Yeah, 20 cent.

    • Realist

      All prohibitions or heavy taxing ends in black market expansion.
      Distribution of money by force from “bad” to “good” industries, while wasting some money on “mediator” (government agencies) causes black market to take over.
      I am sure black market for tobacco, wine and anything else will expand.
      Just look what happened when Denmark introduced and scrap sugar and fat tax recently :)
      http://www.foodnavigator.com/Legislation/Danish-government-scraps-fat-tax-cancels-planned-sugar-tax

      At the end, your body needs both sugar and fat, getting it with coke, pork fat, full-fat milk or other means is everybody’s choice !!!!!

    • joe hack

      the DAGGERS are out for David today I bought a nana for 15 cent the other day and the water from my tap at the mo is is already paid for

  9. Paris75013

    Hi David,

    Happy new year to you and all the bloggers on the website (a little late maybe …)!

    Excellent idea to pay people to lose weight! A certain sum for each kilo lost, which must be repaid if they put the weight back on. France has also changed, and obesity has become common place.

    From a professional point of view, looking good has never been so important. It’s not just the linkedin photo, nowadays professionals need to work on their self-branding on the web. The CV is dead and recruiters are looking at the online profile, video and big data (what we say on the web).

    The good thing is that clothes have become cheaper. I get great outfits for work in Zara and on Ventes Privées (and Penneys, Dunnes … when I’m home) and know a few really good places in Paris for good value vintage designer clothes and accessories. Fashion is definitely fun!

    • I agree with you . Also has anyone ever imagined why the French are always thin ? Even if they eat lots of fatty cheese , croissants, baguettes,creme de tarte etc etc .

      Its interesting that since Mc Donalds opened some French have become fatter .

    • breltub

      Style over substance.
      It’s all about the style.

      We even named out 5-a-side team that, but only finished 3rd in the league so it was also apt!

  10. StephenKenny

    There’s clearly something in the water that economists drink.

    We have Nobel Prize winning economists telling how beneficial for the economy the destruction of entire towns is. Then we have them telling us that the only way out of a debt crisis is to keep adding more debt. Now they’re suggesting that personal responsibility should, effectively, be eradicated, and replaced by state direction.

    We should always have concernes about a group who believe that the entire universe is irrational, and that only they, the chosen few with economics PhDs, are rational.

    The best description for the world over the past five years:
    It’s like being on board an ocean liner which gets into trouble. As it starts to sink, you rush to the bridge, only to find that the captain is Daffy Duck.

  11. The failure of the successful marketing of Irish Food can be attributable to ‘ the end of the COOP ‘ a period in Irish Farming . This happened in the seventies .

    Farmers then thought they would make mega bucks by selling their coops to private investors who were not farmers .Thus ALL Control of marketing of Irish Food was lost forever by the farmers and they have never recovered since.

    Even Irish Government lost control in using The Shamrock in Germany where the most profitable market was .They lost it through a conspiracy within Germany .

    • bonbon

      Right about the move to international investors. On the shamrock, there was a patent dispute . Apparently a blue shamrock “Kleeblatt” was already used in Germany.

  12. Tony Brogan

    Never mind bribes and fines or even self loathing.
    Education is the key
    There is a high school program in Canada called , I think, Food Safe. It has been a while and things change.
    My three all learned about diet, food preparation ,cooking, nutrition, and how different food types affected the body.

    on the whole a good result in that two out of the three are lean and execise. The third not so and is somewhat overweight and less active But is aware of good food practices.

    Comes back to money. Education is still the key. If the people were aware of the attributes of sound money then they would demand sound money.
    Sound money does not allow inflation. Inflation affects the working poor and the destitute more than all others. Prices rise and they are reduced to buying cheap compound carbohydrates that are the worst possible food to consume.

    One other program that can help are school lunches. Proper nutricious food is supplied to each child at midday. A well fed child learns better and plays better and has a higher HQ as well.Good food equals a better education.

    • werty

      that is a great idea, unfortunately the education system is similar to the titanic in its ability to react, home education is the route here possibly, if we just commit to it, and of course educate ourselves

    • Realist

      +1 Education is a key.
      Family education on this subject is critical as public schooling is very poor at the moment on that subject.
      This is why we need to teach our children, but as in economics there are a lot of fallacious concepts around food ….

      At the end a lot of things is what you can afford, so more competition in food industry and more freedom will give us cheaper and better quality food.

      • Steaf35

        Yes, education is the key; A programme of education through sport which can then link to nutrition and diet. Instead of once a week PE classes it should be once a day. The predominant difficulty is that some of our present overpaid teachers wont, or dont know how to progress such a programme as it would involve some imagination. Of course it would also require some Government funding re improvement of facilities but their nose blocks their sight…!!! This could also be linked to the numerous sporting organisations throughout the country such as the GAA (They have coaches going into the schools already), Athletics, Soccer etc.
        At the primary level it should concentrate on game development and fun and at secondary level it can concentrate at development of skills in particular sports. Subsequently you develop a generation who are predominately active and interested in sport. Just a thought….!

        • Realist

          Agree about the sport, but it does not need to be just sport, could be also hill walking once per week, whatever children and their parents want.
          If they do not want PE at all let them be it too.

          To allow such schools need to be independent and that means you need private schooling that will allow competition of ideas.
          For example I would give all my 3 sons to the first school providing more PE than religion.
          Some other people will like more religion than PE.
          Let’s everybody decide on it.
          Today, all schools teaching the same, no house or internet teaching allowed too. No practical schooling.

          And running more means we need them fed more, so more jobs, ha ha ha, stopping here :)

    • bonbon

      “Sound money” never existed, and children need to learn the fallacy of Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments :

      “To man is allotted a much humbler department …. Nature has directed us to the greater part of these by original and immediate instincts. Hunger, thirst,the passion which unites the two sexes, the love of pleasure,and the dread of pain, prompt us to apply those means for their own sakes, and without any consideration of their tendency to those beneficent ends which the great Director of nature intended to produce by them.” –Adam Smith Theory of Moral Sentiments – 1759

      Children that see that imperial edict to be humble and nothing more than goats, will not be herded, will not be fooled by any magic of money, and will take the Public Good into their hands with full consideration of the great ends to be achieved.

      Behavioral Economics is based on the pleasure-pain incentivizing now much touted in economic circles such as ESRI and the Obama Administration. Pure Adam Smith.

  13. breltub

    Hi David,

    Just to help you join the dots.

    Your company churning our corn syrup and your farmer growing high sugar corn are both getting fat profits backed up by government subsidies, and your support of QE is supporting this system of over corporatising the food chain.

    You want people living a more healthy life style then allow the producers of food a chance to get their product to the market and not have the government force them to go through big-agri-business who get more benefits than any welfare system.

    You want to fix fat people you fix the food they eat.
    You want to get them to exercise more, get out there and make sure there are facilities there.
    I live in Cork and there is barely a swimming pool in the city. A couple of 25m ones here and there.

    1. fix the food chain
    2. Fix the facilities

    and if people don;t have the will power to do something for themselves it is not up to anyone else to pay them.

    Later,
    Brian

    • Realist

      +1 Very nice comments breltub.

      Government always trying to find the solution for the problem they created in the first place !!!!!!

      They look as saving the planet while they put it on fire in the first place.

      As you said if they stop harassing industry with what people should produce and eat it will be better for all of us.

      Leave people do whatever they want to do, government should move from our lives and stop redistributing money the way they see fit, e.g. in this case from fat to lean, from drinkers to sober, from wealthy to poor and so on.

  14. Realist

    So, instead of lean government we need lean people to help fat government :)

  15. Paris75013

    I agree with Tony. Nutrition needs to be taught in school. My 8-year old son did it in school (in Paris) just before Xmas. It’s taught in a really fun way and the kids really understand. BTW, there are cantines in school and all children get a proper lunch.

    When I was in secondary school, 600 of us used to bring our sandwiches everyday! The weaker kids got to do subjects like home economics!

    During the boom, people spent thousands on fantastic kitchens! Not so sure about the number fantastic meals that came out of them.

  16. Johno

    A very good article and something that has hit home with myself. I am over weight and have been for last 6-7 years prob longer if Im totally honest. And Im losing weight soley for vainty reasons and kinda geting paid for it. I bought a bike under cycle to work scheme in Oct. I havent cycled to work yet but I have been out on it most free time I have. With a slight change in diet and the cycling I lost a stone and a half before Christmas. I did put back on 3lbs over xmas period but I did over eat / drink so was to be expected. But if I didnt get a tax scheme I wouldnt of bought the bike. So it does work

    • joe hack

      Well done keep it up. the bike to work scheme was not intended for people to lose weight in was a the greens who brought it in to discourage the use of cars and unlike Davids scheme its available to skinny people too. if only it was safe for younger people and older people to use bikes too.

      Keep it up on yer bike David will be happy that your not costing the HSE money

      • Tony Brogan

        Hey, I’m older and a bike was great even with 50 pounds of effects aboard. Have not cycled much the last month and christmas and all so the weight going back up again.
        Like cooldude I will stay off the breads and pastas and stick to the bacon and eggs full Irish, lots of sea food and fresh veg and fruits. The brighter the colour the better for you go for the reds for the anti oxidants and the krilloil and sea food too for the
        antaxathins.
        RR6 tell that beauty in the jeans that her arse will look better in anything after it has been peddled a bit, on a bike that is.

        Stay young stay healthy.
        OLD is just another word.

        • whatamess

          another weak article from DMW !Actually the waekest in 6 months…the first two-thirds of article could have been successfully accomplished in two short paragraphs….alota filler …
          DMW-”Now I know this sounds truly radical” …Can DMW discuss the truly truly truly radical that alot of contributors here advocate for ,rather than these articles of mixed metaphors and quirky comparisons that are getting tiresome…maybe it’s January Blues from me…sorry if it is

          Tony Brogan-”Like cooldude I will stay off the breads and pastas and stick to the bacon and eggs full Irish, lots of sea food and fresh veg and fruits”

          the atkin’s diet

          amazingly,although very familiar with the brand name -”the atkin’s diet”- i never understood HOW and WHY it works

          i’ve used in 7 or 8 times to battle my love handles,moobs and belly and it f**k it works!!!.You start the diet and after 2 or 3 days of a HIGH protein diet,your body kicks into “ketosis” and now your body feeds from your fat deposits for necessary energy ,as opposed to using the ‘normal’ energy source of sugar/carbs.you can consume 15 to 20 grams carbs daily – from cucumbers,lettuce,cap full(or 2) of salad dressing

          Foods you can eat(as MUCH as you want actually!)
          eggs,fish,chicken(minus bread crumbs..can’t do KFC,sorry:)bacon,sausage,burgers,mayonnaise,
          cheese,lettuce,tuna,cucumber ,fresh GREEN veg and more

          Foods you CAN’T eat:
          rice,pasta,bread,crisps,chocolate,ketchup,full fat coca-cola ,apples,wine,oranges and more

          you can also drink alcohol(gin and vodka with diet fizzy drink or slimline tonic)every day and it won’t really affect”ketosis”,but’trouble does come into paradise’ with alcohol as our bodies will choose alcohol as it’s FIRST fuel to burn,and only when that’s burnt, does it ‘switch’ to your fat deposits

          after the first 3 days of ‘dieting’ this way,you kick into ketosis and with daily exercise( not a MUST but to achieve best results you gotta at least go for a brisk long walk and the more you exercise,the better the results as the body will eat your fat deposits) and close to zero or zero daily carbs,i usually loose 2 stone in 5 weeks! factorama!Full Irish breakfasts any time of the day ,huge bowls of chicken and tuna salads etc

          anyway,check it out for yourself

          • whatamess

            and when the 2 stone is lost and i inevitably resort to the unhealthier diet,it takes about 5 months to replace that 5 weeks of denying myself(i.e.my weight loss)…that’s me and it will differ between people but the ideal thing to do is after you loose the required weight,reintroduce the bad foods slowly into diet ( or not at all …but i gotta have me spuds and sooner or later,i’ll crack…lack of self restaint:) mea maxima culpa

  17. Adelaide

    A logical argument that makes economic sense, hang on!

    Did I not recently read “A Critique of Economic Theory” demonstrating there is no ‘sense’ in economics as it is a hodgepotch of ‘senseless’ assumptions and subjective interpretations, it can neither explain the cause of previous phenomena (the Great Depression anyone?) or predict future ones (the Great Recession?), and that the espousals of Economists is thus quack talk.

    The ‘reward Fat people’s weight loss coz it makes economic sense’ policy has so many unintended ramifications one would need a quantum crystal ball at hand, it typifies the farce of economic theory as a practical tool to explain the causes-and-effects of the most rudimentary developments in an economy.

    Here is a radical proposal; “massive house repossessions” makes economic sense. My logical interpretation is so fullproof only an Economist would disagree.

    • Adelaide

      On a practical note.

      The best way to lose weigth (if you are in an office job) is to stand at your desk. After watching a BBC health documentary I discarded my desk seat six months ago and have been vertical every day since. At this stage standing is second nature and it is seating down which feels unnatural and uncomfortable.

      Try it for a week as a test.

      • bonbon

        Right, but you need one of those elevated desks, which cost more. So far I see workers getting all kinds of ergonomic chairs, but those desks cause meetings.

        In Germany it is against the law to work more than 10 hours a day. One way to prevent people getting thrombosis.

  18. aidanxc

    Why don’t we tax the hell out of fizzy drinks, chocolates, high fat foods etc? Surely that will incentivise people to change their diets? And it should be a zero-sum tax with the revenues taken in from the Fat tax used to subsidise fresh fruit and veg (only fresh, not frozen, chopped, blended etc).

  19. Dorothy Jones

    Jelly Bellies and Lardy Bums

    NIce to see how our Govt is helping our European Reps stay slim and trim during its EU Presidency. Do they:

    a. Let said Reps walk from their Hotels to meetings in the City Centre a la IMF AJ Chopra?
    b. Agree to pay the occasional taxi fare if weather is inclement, giving some work to the many drivers?
    c. Purchase 74 Audi A6′s to show the Germans just how poor we are and to ensure that as little exercise is engaged in as possible?

    Answers on a postcard please…….

  20. petmak65@aol.com

    How would an nct on everyone’s birthday work school goers have to pass doctor and teacher adults pass Garda and doctor ,and a nice reward from government for law abiding people who try to stay healthy ?

  21. Lord Jimbo

    I’d prefer to get paid for going to work. Take home pay doesn’t get me to the bus stop.

    On a more serious note, obesity is a huge issue and only set to get worse, it costs people their health, costs the economy lost productivity and costs the health service to deal with the fallout, clearly something has to be done.

    • redriversix

      Awwww..a bus stop..that brings me back..!

      had to stop using buses,they always wanted me to pay for two…Soon as I stopped,they taught the Buses to Kneel.typical..!

  22. schlach

    Here’s an idea: leave people alone to make up their own minds about what they should and shouldn’t put in their bodies.

    This article smacks of paternalism and another encroachment of the nanny state.

    • Adelaide

      No no no! This should be extended to smokers, drug users, chronic gamblers, helmet-less cyclists, World-of-Warcraft addicts, Fianna Fail supporters, unsupervised kayakers, what else, didgeridoo crusty street performers, government work scheme planners, those bongo street performers in Galway, if they all just stop what they’re doing we’d all be economically and socially better off.

      • Realist

        +1 to both of you. Very nicely said.

        free society, leave people alone please.
        government better to think to steal less money from people through taxes and inflation.
        Maybe we would have more money for “better quality” (to us only, as it is subjective) food then ?

  23. redriversix

    I have heavy bones…….HEAVY BONES..!!!

    I accept coins,cash,gold,vouchers for Dundrum shopping Center.Oil[no gas Thank you] Rubles,Government bonds,CFD’s shares in Mcdonalds
    [they open more restaurants in a recession..! good business..]

    Art,anything with Bernanke’s signature,Irish E.U presidential ties.second season of “Homeland”……!!

    If I do not get any of these items in the next 24 hours,the 12 pack of “Tunnocks” teacakes gets it.

    you skinny fuckers have been warned,that includes you Mcwilliams..!! “if you turned sideways you’d be reported missing,saw more met on a butchers apron”!!!!!

  24. redriversix

    I am not saying Butchers are met [meth] heads thought I wrote meat,……turned out what I thought was “a” was in fact a piece of splattered Teacake…!

    Oops,……need another Hostage…..!

  25. cooldude

    Interesting article and comments. Personally I am in the personal responsibility camp and think the desire to be healthy should come from within. Another issue which has not been addressed is why there are such failure rates among people who are genuinely trying to lose weight and get in shape. My view is because all this low fat nutritional advice is just plain wrong and is not suitable for our species. I personally eat a diet high in natural fats (including saturated) and I am in excellent shape and have the same waist size as I did when I was 21 a long time ago. The reason all this low fat nonsense is being pushed at us is because it suits the big food manufacturers to use vegetable oils in their products as this process gives a much longer shelf than using traditional natural fats. These unnatural fats, high fructose corn syrup and aspartamine lie behind most of the health problems in our society. A good book on all this is Natural Health and Weight Loss by Barry Groves and http://www.mercola.com is an excellent website which has a very good search engine for anyone interested in natural health.

    • Realist

      +1 personal responsibility

      I am drinking only full-fat organic milk (99c) that is cheaper than low-fat organic one (above e1). So it is either demand for low-fat is higher or milk companies need to do more to make it low-fat.
      I bet it is due to the higher demand, but I might be wrong ?

      Regardless natural food, GM, organic and all that just one warning from me.
      Be careful about naturalistic fallacies too, no mater how much it looks pleasing.

      Natural and organic does not mean always healthier. E.g. organic pesticides can be more harmful than non-organic low harm pesticides.
      They bunched both harmful and non-harmful under organic banner, similarly for non-organic industry there are less and more harmful chemicals used.
      So, it all depends. Badly enough, both organic and non-organic food is not marked properly with more attributes, like safe for environment, low risk pesticides/herbicides, ….
      At the end nobody proved things are bad to your body, as not all of that entering your body system that easy.

      But this is again the problem with all these laws and rules coming from government agencies about food, instead of leaving companies and people to decide about healthiness of such food.

      • Adam Byrne

        I only drink Goat’s Milk – delicious and healthy.

        • Realist

          Good one Adam,
          I am trying it myself from time to time, but I am not that strong to persist on it yet :)

          • Adam Byrne

            You get used to it very quickly Realist.

            Apparently it sells out in the supermarket here in Lucan, shortly after they stock it (you will have gathered by that, that I rarely actually make it into the supermarket myself!)

            I used to love a good Goat Water (Soup) when living in the Caribbean, and Goat Curry is great too.

  26. SMOKEY

    In this age of information, instant knowledge at your fingertips and an overwhelming amount of evidence about LDL, HDL, BMI, LO GI, HI FIBER, LOW FAT, POLY, MONO, SATURATES, HYDROGENATED, PALM KERNEL, BPM, HYDRATION, CALORIES, FOOD MILES, FAST FOOD, SLOW FOOD, ETC ETC.
    The idea to pay any lazy, internet game playing, couch potato, tv watching, biscuit munching, soda drinking, no exercise taking, cigarette smoking, cheap sweet eating, Mc Donalds consuming, chip van chasing roly poly humpty dumpty looking fat fuck, is not only an outrageous idea but it is unacceptable and not worth the column inches that you wasted on it.
    And this comes from one of your main fans David so I must say this installment will not be remembered as one of your best.
    What I would say to them is, lay off of the groceries and move more, it works and its good economics.

    • joe hack

      But would that not mean that less people would be working in the fat food business/restaurant trade.. whats that picture next your name Smokey?

      • SMOKEY

        Those are my delicous “red sauce enchiladas” filled with either chicken or cheese.
        I also do a white enchilada but it is not as traditional as the red sauce with yellow corn tortillas. and they are buy the way, fattening, but I know this, so I dont eat them every night!
        As for the restaurant trade, that is an emphatic no.
        It is like the bullshit calorie counts on the menus, if you are going out to eat and are in the mood for Lasagne, youre wont be swayed by the calorie count, you will get our lasagne.
        No more, no less trade in the restaurants. They have been in the past, and present, and future ruled by economic conditions, not calorie counts.
        Lazy parents who feed there kids garbage can look around the school drop off point and see how they stack up. Gee, my kids are fatter than everyone elses!
        They either get with it, or raise fat lazy unhealthy kids. Paying them is just plain stupid. Let em eat cake! Or in the case of the Irish, Cadbury mini rolls.

        • bonbon

          I’ll take one of those enchillada’s right now!

          The entire “calorie” swindle is made apparent by a study showing very fine French cuisine matching MacD’s count. The only difference : Snobbery and price, a very bad Tiger habit of the new-bankrupt.

          Calorie count has now become Carbon Footprint. There we are swindled to pay carbon certificates, it is only a matter of time someone will put a Calorie Surcharge Added Tax on menu’s.

          From VAT to CAT, from the Troika Fatcats.

          The Calorie Swap Certificates.

  27. joe hack

    I searched online for news about the economy but I keep getting links to this blog here … yummy corn syrup and pancakes and get paid for eating them.

    Yes as David said above, ’a moral hazard’ – why not just tell everybody to be irresponsible and that responsible people will pay…

    David’s wish list – debt forgiveness, fat forgiveness (dare I say fat bank bailouts) etc…Will it ever dawn on you that to build a society you incentive good behaviour.

    Reversing your fat forgiveness with a skinny tax credit (a tax deduction) would have the same health affect and would be a moral incentive for a progressive society also this may initially be cheaper as you quote that “61% of Irish adults obese” so the skinny tax credit would only have to be paid to 39% of skinny’s as opposed to 61%, also with could have a sensibly money tax credit to incentivise responsibility- WoW what idea I just had (incentivise responsibility).

    Of course we would have to be careful and have a skinny tax credit cut-off point as we don’t want to encourage the reverse and end up a skinny forgiveness.

    I expect you would not bring up your kids the way you are suggesting this country should be run.

    I agree that people over weight may need help and that too may help society as do I agree that people in debt may also need help and that to may help society…
    Using economics to save of a few pounds out of our economic diet in this way may be seen as slightly Nazi like as it appears your suggestion it not out of concern but rather because we won’t have to pay as much tax.

    I can see another cue at the tax office – take your ticket number please and weight in line (the office of weights and measures), under David’s scheme I put lead weights in my pockets, under my scheme I could send a jockey in place of myself, maybe there could be a little money earner for some light weight impersonator…

    • bonbon

      See below for precision : Aktion T4. “Evidence-based medicine”,Obamacare, Mr. Blair’s NICE, LLP.

    • Hi Joe,

      Fair enough. The point of the article is about incentives. The way you construct them is up to you.

      All the best

      David

      • joe hack

        Hi David,

        I would like to think that if it was up to me I would do it well but most things are easier said than done.

        How you incentivise an incentive is important and maybe it’s more important than the incentive itself as what follows may be a disincentive to others paying for the incentive.

        Debt forgiveness it not just a moral hazard it has future dysfunction built into it. if you don’t incentivise responsibility then the responsible people will learn a lesson. With debt forgiveness an incentive for irresponsibility is built in therefore to counter a greater incentive for responsibility must follow.

        I expect people understand that sometimes as you suggest incentives to get people back on track can be and are a progression as has been well documented within the prison system. (I heard that 40% of prison inmates are dyslexic don’t know if it’s true but I know well it can cause anger and frustration)

        I am well aware that the causes of obesity are not just related to food mental issues can be a be part of it but we should look back to the pictures from the past no one was overweight 30+ years ago we worked to eat and survive.

        As you allude to Tax is not a waste of money the HSE is not a waste Tax money. an example might be that in future Gérard Depardieu might well gain from a hospitals expertise gained by tax money. Maybe if a fellow rich skinny French man was not to be taxed at 75% Then Gérard Depardieu may find a skinny tax loop hole.

        Regards
        Ciarán

  28. As you will know from your physics lessons, the heavier an object is the slower the time moves on…. in other words in outer space time runs faster, but if you come close enough to a black hole, time is slowed down to the maximum, hence it acts as a natural time maschine…. Send all central bankers and economists in an stationary orbit around a black hole of around 50 million kilometers…time runs slow, hence you can naturally drag on repayments of bondholders and kick the can down the road for infinity.

    Har har

    • Tony Brogan

      Put HAL aboard too. a black hole for the whole crew me hearties.

      • HAL

        Being preoccupied with fat taxes and IRA men of the night on the loose we forgot about old HAL. You are right to raise concerns Irish Borther and I know all true right thinking Irish patriots are thinking of and waiting for news of brother HAL but let us be crystal clear. HAL is gone and something new and improved will replace the old spud within weeks

        It will be bigger and better than ever before and it will make mankind glad we did it I tell ye!. Those space gazing little Aines and Connors will just have to toss of and find new heroes or be distracted and bought off with filthy cash

        He went where no man went before in the cause of the green jersey and merely days since his rumoured demise the economy took a masculine and vigorous vigorous turn for the better thanks to merchandise and media interests with substantial worldwide license fees and product orders that could make us spin a corner on one wheel (or on a finger) faster than you can say ‘revolve me slowly’.

        HAL has been chosen as the logo for the new Green Jersey condoms.
        Green Jersey
        ‘Out of this world!’
        (I tell ye bhoy!)

        If you think I am prepared to risk all that for HAL then it is time to get real. HAL will be looked after when he returns. Just that he remains anonymous forever. Thats the deal!

        He was 500 million miles away and unfortunately for us all the laws of physics broke down in that part of space and catapulted him straight back to us. The luck of the Irish haw haw. Jees did you choke on your Whiskey there son? Pull your self together man

        You want the truth and I want to share it because by doing so I know I will become part of history and in 1000 years time my name will me mentioned in the annals of the Flanna. Or perhaps they are called the ‘The Flannel’ these days. I don’t honestly know but will be happy to check that out and get back to you but just remember one one thing – for the next few the days the truth we share can get us both killed. Only a madman or a brainwashed patriot would sacrifice his lot and squander this once chance of greatness

        They told me I would have an important part to play in Ireland!. Richard Burton at the end of Massacre in Rome (1973)

        I cancelled the memorial stone for his half parish (HP) for a number of reasons not the least of which was I was informed he was party to the afore mentioned psychotic forces lurking in the community. Still by the time he gets home he forget all about labels

  29. bonbon

    When the gov’ts are now supposed to dictate diet, as they dictate E10 biofuel instead of food, we are heading straight for Action T4 again. That M.D.-signed document, listed classes of people with illness, as too expensive for “the effort”. Date Sep 1939. T4 – Tiergarten 4 Health Ministry Berlin address. Dr. Brandt et al hung on that evidence. Why? It opened the door to everything after – a price on life.

    Look at Liverpool Life Pathway for where this leads right now. Those “statistically” dying have treatment withdrawn – to cut costs. Mr. Blair’s recipe.

    Amazing how suddenly the “concern” about health of the EU subjects. Will there be a questionnaire on diet if one is hospitalized with problems to determine treatment refusal?

    There was an infamous leaked document in Czeka, suggesting to leave people smoke – it cut life short, so cut costs. This is “evidence-based medicine” – the basis for Obama’s reform which actually comes from Britain’s N.I.C.E, National Institute for Clinical Excellence, parochially known as Citizen Elimination.

    It is a tiny step from pointing out costs of bad diet to health finance policy.

    Stop it in its tracks!

  30. george

    I totally agree with dwalsh this is a “win win situation” for big Corporations making from baby-food in a jar, or your “home made” lasagna in a box; to the health care business sector, that sells the pills to treat the unbalances in your body that bad habits and diet creates, with the added problem they create in, your body and sometimes even your mind. And these big companies very skilfully use advertising through the media, to present their products as the better and the cheaper, when I don’t think in reality it is so. A vicious circle that paradoxically is affecting people and societies, in the so called developed world. This is not to say that good artisan food doesn’t exist.

    At home we made our own integral bread, and our own breakfast cereal, and we use fat, sugar and salt with caution, and we prepare and cook all meals with unprocessed food. My next door neighbour has three kids, and basically the only food they know, is the one coming out of the freezer in a colourful cardboard box.
    .
    Is not that fat, sugar, and salt, are bad for us. But the question should be how much it is ok, or it isn’t good for us, and how we use it. And how much are we going to burn through physical activity? At least every teenager and adult should do an hour a day of it, through cycling and walking or a similar activity.

    Also when we talk about sweeteners, and fat, we have to know what type is used. In the USA, the government imposes high import tariffs for sucrose from cane and beet; so their huge food and soft drink industries can use corn syrup, that they have in abundance. But there are serious doubts about its effects in the body, especially when taken in huge quantities. And if we talk about artificial sweeteners, as the ones used in some light drinks, the story is similar…do we realize the amount of chemicals we ingest through it, and the possible adverse effect of it?
    .
    Wikipedia:
    “Health concerns have been raised about high fructose corn syrup, which allege contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions,[31] and that in some foods HFCS may be a source of mercury,[32][33][34][35] a known neurotoxin. The Corn Refiners Association disputes these claims and maintains that HFCS is comparable to table sugar.[36] Studies by the American Medical Association suggest “it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose”, but welcome further independent research on the subject.[37] Further reviews in the clinical literature have disputed the links between HFCS and obesity,[38] type 2 diabetes,[39] and metabolic syndrome,[38] and concluded that HFCS is no different from any other sugar in relationship to these diseases. HFCS has been classified generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1976.[40] Yet further study showed that with dietary zinc (Zn) loss and copper (Cu) gain from the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), metabolic processes required to eliminate heavy metals are impaired in autistic children.[41]
    It is important to note that many sources agree[42][43][44] that research conducted in the lab setting is often different from consumption of HFCS in everyday life. These sources point out that laboratory research often tests only fructose rather than one of the blends of fructose and glucose that makes up HFCS. When considering how results of any research is applicable to you it is important to know how the lab setting and everyday settings relate and to be cautious of reports that make great claims. That being said more research still needs to be done on the topic of HFCS and the human body.”
    While the growth of fructose consumption in many developed nations coincides with the increase of prevalence of obesity, medical research to date is inconclusive, with contradictory conclusions presented by various research teams.[45]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup#cite_note-45#cite_note-45

  31. george

    David I didn’t have the chance to tell you, that your last video production regarding the global food economy, is fantastic!
    .
    The following video as well is “food for thought”.
    Tristan Stuart: “The Global food waste scandal”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWC_zDdF74s

  32. bonbon

    I hereby raise an red button alarm !!!

    Incentivizing is the cornerstone of Obama’s health reform, straight from Mr. Blair’s N.I.C.E. (see above).

    What does “incentivize” really mean? A seemingly harmless new word, with “concern” for the happy recipient?

    See this Obama Q&A for EXACTLY what this means !

    All of this is termed “behavioral economics”, also a seemingly harmless “well-intentioned” approach : from Nov 2012 :
    Watch out Ireland! Behavioural Economics “Scientists” heading to Dublin

    The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), ESRI’s multi -million euro budget comes from the Department of Finance, other Government and international bodies and an assortment of business interests.

    The ESRI website announced the horrible event:

    “Applying Behavioural Economics to Public Policy”.

    One of the UK’s leading policymakers will describe how insights from behavioural economics are being used to design new initiatives across UK government departments and agencies. The session will also hear from a leading behavioural economist on the potential benefits and dangers of applying this groundbreaking area to policy. The lead British speaker : How the Market Gives Us What We Want — Even if We Are Irrational Professor Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia”.

    See the ESRI page for the full horror story :
    http://www.esri.ie/news_events/events/forthcoming_events/event_details/index.xml?id=347

  33. bonbon

    I hereby raise an red button alarm !!!

    Incentivizing is the cornerstone of Obama’s health reform, straight from Mr. Blair’s N.I.C.E. (see above).

    What does “incentivize” really mean? A seemingly harmless new word, with “concern” for the happy recipient?

    See this Obama Q&A for EXACTLY what this means !

    All of this is termed “behavioral economics”, also a seemingly harmless “well-intentioned” approach : from Nov 2012 :
    Watch out Ireland! Behavioural Economics =Scientists= heading to Dublin

    • bonbon

      The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), ESRI’s multi -million euro budget comes from the Department of Finance, other Government and international bodies and an assortment of business interests.

      The ESRI website announced the horrible event:

      “Applying Behavioural Economics to Public Policy”.

      One of the UK’s leading policymakers will describe how insights from behavioural economics are being used to design new initiatives across UK government departments and agencies. The session will also hear from a leading behavioural economist on the potential benefits and dangers of applying this groundbreaking area to policy. The lead British speaker : How the Market Gives Us What We Want — Even if We Are Irrational Professor Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia”.

      See the ESRI page for the full horror story :

      http://www.esri.ie/news_events/events/forthcoming_events/event_details/index.xml?id=347

    • Yes HAL you are very right to highlight this new buzzword. It is often used by the stingy English Tory party

      Today John Redwood, a rather obscure and odd looking creature of the night, was pontificating about betting shops in poor areas and attributing to Behavioural Economics. Some of these right wingers are pure whack jobs

      Behavioral economics
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_economics

      The first few paragraphs contain interesting keywords that could be used to join a myriad of dots

  34. martino

    I guess when it comes to healthy eating a good maxim would be the less packaging and processing the better. That way you know there’s no-one making ‘added value’ profits from poor quality ingredients. By the way, one of the things keeping me from emmigrating from here is the quality of the food available here. Fresh good food is cheap here-I couldn’t eat like I do here for four times the money in Germany, where I spend a fair bit of time.

    • Spot on. The quality of local meat, veg and cheeses is something we should be using to educate people about food. There is some great local food here in Ireland and it is one aspect of life here that I would immediately miss if I left

      For a start we could follow Poland and France and keep GMO companies out and follow our own food production policies with the aim of protecting the long term health of the nation

      If Tesco pull out it will be interesting

  35. joe sod

    modern life is sedantry, this is the primary reason why people are getting fatter because modern life has taken out all the mundane physical tasks that used to be part of life. Most people spend their working day sitting in an office. Maybe we should go back to the future and get rid of some of the labour saving devices we have. Would it not make more sense if you have a propensity to put on weight and are doing a sedentary job, then give up this job and get a physical job, that way you are doing physical activity and losing weight, it makes more sense than expensive gym membership which you have to do outside of work hours.

  36. malone

    What nobody seems to have mentioned here and it has more to do with psychology is that of “Comfort Food”

    How many people eat to feel better ?

    Given that we are living in hard times how many people george themselves on fast food, chocolate wine etc just to blot out the fact that they are in arrears to the bank , their credit card is at its limit and how will they pay the next ESB bill and where will I find a job ?

    The food industry puts a lot of time and energy
    and money into making sure that the taste of fast food ,takeaways , convienence food is addictive

    If we have to travel a long distance to our work and
    then come home in the evening late where does the healty option come in with good food/excercise

    How about the binge drinking culture that exists here in Ireland which causes a huge increase in excess calories intake and then naturally a quarter pounder and chips after the pub ?

    • “Comfort Food” is a recent invention by marketing people to sell fast food and tv dinners. They even use sex to sell chocolate (Cadbury’s Flake’).and have being doing so for 40 years. It’s got much worse though

      Todays teenagers and twenty somethings have been programmed since birth to think they are special and that they need comforting and rewarded with food and material possessions

      Real brown bread and Irish cheese in a lunch box stays good for days

  37. Tony Brogan

    Thought for the day

    “When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.” … Frederic Bastiat

  38. Tony Brogan

    posted on http://www.lemetroploecafe.com IMO the finest web site for economics that exists.

    10 January 2013

    It’s Official. Krugman Does Not Understand the Value of Money

    Well I did say that Mr. Krugman should proceed, and like Mitt Romney, he did, and doubled down.

    I am not quite sure I have the words. Chris Hedges was right.

    Like other progressives and independents, I have been discouraged that many old school liberal economists have had so little to say about financial reform, and the frauds in the banking system, even as they blindly pressed their case for more stimulus to be distributed without repairing a broken financial system that taxes the real economy with fraud. They learned part of the lesson from FDR, but not the part that really matters.

    They make themselves willfully blind to the crony capitalism that exists between the Fed and Wall Street, and the manipulation in the markets, and the lack of any credible prosecutions for some of the most egregious financial crimes since the 1920′s. How many more scandals will have to be revealed before they end their denial?

    But in grabbing this whacko platinum gimmick of overt monetization, and in stubbornly claiming that it can do no harm, while mocking anyone who expresses concern about their schemes as some economic Luddite, Krugman and others have shown the purblind ignorance of the ideologue who does not understand what is really wrong, and why the people are becoming restless.

    And they answer them with sophistry and baby talk. No wonder why economics is a disgraced profession.

    This is another good example of the credibility trap.

    …For many people on the right, value is something handed down from on high It should be measured in terms of eternal standards, mainly gold; [Because something is not purely arbitrary does not require that it be divine - Jesse] I have, for example, often seen people claiming that stocks are actually down, not up, over the past couple of generations because the Dow hasn’t kept up with the gold price, never mind what it buys in terms of the goods and services people actually consume.

    And given that the laws of value are basically divine, not human, any human meddling in the process is not just foolish but immoral. Printing money that isn’t tied to gold is a kind of theft, not to mention blasphemy. [Again, the intolerance of the ideologue, who is so far over on the continuum that they can only look across and see their other extreme, entirely overlooking the middle - Jesse]

    For people like me, on the other hand, the economy is a social system, created by and for people. Money is a social contrivance and convenience that makes this social system work better – and should be adjusted, both in quantity and in characteristics, whenever there is compelling evidence that this would lead to better outcomes. [Money is just another tool, a cool toy, to the financial engineers who govern the economy like a benevolent elite. They do not understand value and consequences as they tinker and experiment, hoping for better luck next time. And amongst financial engineers, Greenspan was Dr. Frankenstein. - Jesse]

    It often makes sense to put constraints on our actions, e.g. by pegging to another currency or granting the central bank a high degree of independence, but these are things done for operational convenience or to improve policy credibility, not moral commitments – and they are always up for reconsideration when circumstances change. [The ruling übermenschen are above conventional morality in their arcane knowledge. This is why they must operate in secret, like the great Wizard of Oz. - Jesse]

    Now, the money morality types try to have it both ways; they want us to believe that monetary blasphemy will produce disastrous results in practical terms too. But events have proved them wrong. [Yes that's right. The credit bubble, tech bubble, and housing bubbles have been benign. All of them facilitated by economic quackery and true believers. But the financial elite can admit no error. - Jesse]

    And I do find myself thinking a lot about Keynes’s description of the gold standard as a “barbarous relic”; it applies perfectly to this discussion. The money morality people are basically adopting a pre-Enlightenment attitude toward monetary and fiscal policy – and why not? After all, they hate the Enlightenment on all fronts. [As he cries for more leeches to bleed the patient - Jesse]

    The bottom line is that we aren’t really having a rational argument here. Nor can we: rationality has a well-known liberal bias. [The hubris of gnosticism in failure knows no bounds - Jesse]
    Paul Krugman, Barbarous Relics

  39. Alex Jones calls the virtuous lean, trim self controlled types Dweebs and little Hitlers. Give me a girl with a few extra pounds any day.

    Glad you are homing in on food policy and production because no one else in the msm seems to think it is important enough a topic to address. Food producers have been selling crap food for decades and now mass produced food is in the hands of a small number of corporations

    Now we are seeing the results of the damage they are doing

    The obestity statistics are damning as are the statistics for the consumption of presciption drugs. Water fluoridation is another subject that is totally taboo but that can wait for another day

    That mass produced food is far cheaper than fresh veg is absurd. If the people want allotments the lobbying power of the multis will say no way.

    You are right. We should all get out more and do healthy things like sports or outdoor activities like photography and hill walking. You have to be healthy to begin with and build up but right now the nation is far from healthy

    I think you might find that in times of soul crunching austerity the desire for physical exercise lies further up the triangle of human needs. I don’t think your idea is crazy at all and think it would work

    Good luck with the football David. Remember you are not Billy Bremner and need to watch the ticker. Instead inspire to be more like George Graham aka ‘The Stroller’.

    • Tony Brogan

      Kilkenomics 2013

      Budget Train 60
      Tickets 100 10 venues, 20 marbles and a book
      BnB 4 nights 160 could be 140
      4 beer 20
      4 meals 60
      4 lunches 20
      ————————-
      Total 420

      9 months to go x 30 days =270
      Save 2E a day starting now and you can go in style.
      Every day 2E in the jar before anything else. adam will help you count the days maybe he’ll share a room and lower the cost. or you can be happy with the marbles and dont spend the 20 for beer. Find a BnB online for 30/night?.
      Bring your camera and see if you can sell a few pics!

      • Realist

        Day off work or laisure are worth more money than that.
        Even leisure time is also the costly resource for people to afford 4 days :)
        I have no sick days as a contractor neither.

        Are we going to learn something new there or listen to the same government songs David and similar are singing :)
        Is there anything good from your perspective Tony to hear ?

        It is probably worth coming to see people and drink and relax a bit.
        Who cares about economy anyway as my wife will not like it if I put the economy as a reason for the trip :)

        • Tony Brogan

          Bugger all to learn as you can teach them if they would listen. Maybe a couple onside like Max Keiser
          good time for all.

      • Dorothy Jones

        4 beers!!!!! LOL

        • lol. Yeah I know. Four beers is but an aperitif!

          • Tony Brogan

            You budget at 2 Euro a day from here there and you can drink all the beer your heart desires.

            This is an exercise to get Pauldiv there.
            I voluteer a beer for Pauldiv each day.
            Challenge: who will match me?

          • Tony Brogan

            I over budgetyed on the beer at5E it is 4E.
            Still on budget at asavings of 2E a day there is 120EEuro extra than budget 120/4=30. Extra 7 beer a day. Will not be buying supper as beer is better.

            Another 60E saved so afford 15 more beer.

            Do not feel like attending class so why buy a tichet
            100 saved and anther 25 beer served
            Can’y find the BnB now so need not bother, under the bridge is ok so another 140E saved and another 35 beer added to the cart.

            Bloody hell. I do not have to go to Kikenny to get pissed I can stay home and save the rail fare. I can save the whole 420 E and have a much better time here at home and gussle 105 beers . ?would it last me 4 days. Who needs K
            Kilkenomics anyway?

            Just 2 Euro a day Paul or one less beer every 2nd day!!!!Till you get there that is.

            Choices , choices.

          • Dorothy Jones

            Do save up Paul; I’m going to try to make it this year [I was in the bold corner for a good while from year 1]. We’ll have a beer together :) or two….

          • Adam Byrne

            Yeah, that was a good plan Tony, wanted to say so yesterday but couldn’t login.

            Have you started saving Paul? See you there.

        • Last of the big spenders lol

      • Thanks for taking the time to break it down down for me Tony. You have now got me motivated and convinced me that is is do-able. I like a good kick up the arse from time to time

        • Tony Brogan

          You will have a fun week and not agree with a lot of the presentations but there you go . you will see why the problems of the world will be a long time being solved when you hear the presenters
          You will meet a few top notch lads and a lassie or two as well

          • You have all convinced me to go and I know it will be money well spent. I have made my mind up so a big thanks to those of you who encouraged me

            I think I have a shoe box and a roll of sellotape somewhere

            I am not sure what to expect but know it will be a learning experience and a bit of a hoot

  40. bonbon

    The real obesity is the bailout, pudgy TARP, flabby LTRO’s, and now Godzilla QE4, Bernanke’s fast-food for the varocious banksters. But wait a minute, are Draghi and Bernanke actually trying to pay them to slim?

    Another Argument for Glass-Steagall: “Secrets and Lies of the Bailout”

    Under that title, financial investigative reporter Matt Taibbi delves deep into the deceptions and secret dealings of the Bush and Obama Administration’s Wall Street bailouts, in a lengthy article in Rolling Stone. Even though Taibbi doesn’t refer to Glass-Steagall in this piece, he certainly shows why the restoration of FDR’s law is so absolutely necessary.
    ——
    Glass-Steagall is a sudden healthy diet for bloated banks. The banks are also eating Drug money, are addicted in fact – another reason to be concerned for their health.

  41. bonbon

    While the banksters bloat, in the US ALMOST 20 MILLION CHILDREN OUT OF 73.9 MILLION under the age of 18 were in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, in 2011, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and US Census Bureau, RT reported Jan. 10, with children 45% of those receiving aid.

    As of October 2012, one in 6.5 Americans use SNAP, while in the 1970s it was only one in 50.
    —-
    With reports of food waste, also being suggested to feed the poor with – in other words garbage for the poor, and at the same time 30% of the US grain crop going to biofuel on a dictated quota, who is driving this? There is actually a world food shortage.

  42. bonbon

    A tale of promissory notes, mortgage backed securities, and bailouts.

    Mortgage “Settlements” Protect Mortgage/Derivatives Fraud Jan 10, 2013 (LPAC)–Three big mortgage/foreclosure settlements have been announced so far: the $25 billion settlement announced in February 2012; and the $8.5 billion settlement reache with 10 banks and the $10.3 billion deal reached with Bank of America earlier this week. That makes for good headlines, but what is actually going on here?
    In effect, the crimes which these bankers committed are still being covered up.
    What crimes? To answer that question, it is necessary to understand that the issue from the bankers’ perspective is not mortgages, not even foreclosures, but the protection of the fictitious values of mortgage-related derivatives — the mortgage-backed securities and the securities piled atop them. That means protecting a whole string of fraudulent acts, from improper issuance of mortgages to failure to comply with laws regarding the transfers of mortgages and their related promissory notes, which invalidates most of the mortgage-backed securities and the derivatives based upon them. Which in turn means that the banks and the mortgage trusts lacked the legal standing to foreclose on homeowners — a problem they tried to remedy with widespread falsification of documents and the filing of those false documents in court.
    The systematic criminality of this scam is stunning. An honest investigation of any part of it would quickly expose a vast criminal conspiracy, and also reveal the entire mortgage-derivatives portfolio to be worthless. Which would reveal the bankruptcy of the financial system as a whole and trigger runs which would immediately blow out that system.
    That is why we see these phony settlements, which appear to be punishing the banks but actually protect them. Were the truth to see the light of day, the system would be gone by nightfall.

    A little lesson there would’nt one think?

  43. bonbon

    Dr Fox, head of energy and environment at the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population — as well as those in hunger today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20968076

    Some of the data is questionable – see the bbc.

    The truth is we need to double food production, stop the use of food potential for biofuels, and organize the necessary water for agriculture. This is what Reconstruction is all about after the bloated banks are put on a healthy diet.

  44. Diddle Di Dum

    Lidle has a great philosophy of issuing new catalogues weekly and every week new products are shown from around the world .It also has an on-line marketing system with great display.Its philosophy includes foods and sports .

    What is interesting about its next issue from 14th Jan is that it has given over many pages on foods from Poland .I have never seen such a significant marketing exercise on foods imported into Ireland directly to the purchaser .It is extraordinary .

    What are the implications of this event ? I am sure there are many suggestions one can think of .It is an interesting debate and one that would give an insight into trends to come .

    I have attempted to initiate some :

    Is this the beginning of an all EU inclusive marketing policy ?

    Will our eating habits change in years to come due to new influences in these foods ?

    Will the local producers exist side by side with this policy and how ?

    Are the food products labelled sufficiently to read and understand what you are eating especially in nutritional terms?

    Is this an indication of more Irish leaving the country ?

    Long distance food / fast /slow foods does it make a difference when the same original fresh is on your own doorstep ?

    To see the next issue visit : http://www.lidle.ie

    It is worth noting that Pork does dominate the spectrum of Polish Food in this display and my understanding is it is a fact in reality in Poland too . Fish is not shown neither is Lamb or Beef .Dairy products infiltrate the system too .

    • bonbon

      The plot thickens, the bills reek, and the bailouts bloat.

      Warschau. Euro – nein danke: Polen will die europäische Gemeinschaftswährung nun doch nicht wie geplant 2015 einführen. Das gab die polnische Regierung jetzt bekannt.

      Poland apparently blocked the Euro. Something is afoot. Was a border tariff removed in anticipation? Poland got cold feet watching the crisis and could it be they believe Barosso saying it’s all fixed now?

    • Why buy Polish foods that travel across Europe by road when we can buy Irish produce?

    • Realist

      I thought fish is expensive and healthy :)

      • Like all markets it depends what you buy . Why dont you try better nutritional fish with a value you cannot ignore and leaves lots of change in your pocket like :

        Kippers
        Mackerel
        Whiting

        • Realist

          Good suggestions John.
          As a kid I remember using to eat only sardines and similar small fish that was cheap or only available to be honest, fresh water fish was there to choose too.
          We should be lucky that nowadays we have the choice of all the world fishery to choose from.

        • joe hack

          Mackerel they used trow it at you now its in fancy eateries. Mackerel the best of food

        • Lidl sells plenty of fish including mackerel which is great oily fish that is good for you. Good for the brain apparently as well as skin and hair

          We have so much mackerel in Sligo Bay in July that it could keep the Irish market going all year

          Drop a line with three baits from a rod down into a shoal of mackerel and you can have 20 or 30 of them within 15 mins

          After that it is out to the deep water to catch the big lads lurking near the rocks and they love fresh mackerel

          Local restaurants are expensive and good fish tea is not cheap. We could be more imaginitive in how we consume and market out atlantic fish foods

  45. The chant :’ long live obesity ‘ declares itself to mean they die young and reduce the costs to a State Pension when they retire or live long whatever the cost of lost opportunity costs while they are alive and non workable .

    Have you ever noticed recently the following trends :

    Increase in deaths in young people especially in fifties . They usually live frugally : and

    Increase in lifespan of people who are 85 and over . They usually live in relative luxury.

  46. joe hack

    Would it not be better to invest the fat tax on educating those with learning difficulties s it would help to reduce the numbers of prison officers resulting in more teachers less prison offices and a healthier society?

    Or is that beyond the 4/5 year cycle of a government. The statistics on the numbers of prisoners with learning difficulties is astounding this clearly indicates that it’s fixable. At the moment the education system is been undermined.

    David I think your fat forgiveness tax is not going to happen any time soon.

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